China's president says his country opposes any action that will aggravate the situation on the Korean peninsula, as Japan and others push for United Nations sanctions after North Korea's missile tests last week.
China's official news agency, Xinhua, quotes President Hu Jintao who made the comments today during a meeting with visiting North Korean parliamentary official Yang Hyong Sop. Mr. Hu said China has always been committed to maintaining peace and stability in the region.
U.S. envoy Christopher Hill returned to Beijing today to continue talks with China regarding North Korea. He told reporters the talks are in a crucial stage, and that the U.S. wants to stay in close consultation with Beijing.
Japan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi said today Tokyo will wait a day or two before going forward with its demand for punitive action against North Korea. China has called sanctions "an over-reaction."
Instead of sanctions, China is suggesting a non-binding UN Security Council statement that would criticize North Korea for its missile tests.
The UN Security Council delayed a vote on sanctions Monday to allow more time for diplomacy.
Chinese officials are in Pyongyang trying to persuade North Korea to return to the nuclear talks, which have been stalled for months.
The outcry over the missile launches has sparked a debate in Tokyo over whether pre-emptive strikes against Pyongyang would violate Japan's pacifist constitution.
South Korea denounced such talk as reckless and said Tokyo risks intensifying the North Korean crisis. A presidential spokesman in Seoul Jung Tae-ho said Japan is taking advantage of the outcry over the missile tests to further its own military ambitions.
Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.